Additionally, the law states the only acceptable, certifying boards, are the 24 members of the American Board of Medical Specialities (ABMS), the authoritative speciality board for all U.S. physicians.
Dr. Henry Garazo, a plastic surgeon certified by the ABMS-member American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), believes this bill is a step in the right direction for consumers by helping the public choose the right doctor within the correct speciality.
Particularly important for plastic surgery patients, the law will help weed out many doctors from other specialities who are not properly trained in plastic surgery.
Dr. Garazo explains:
"An educated patient is an empowered patient. After years of confusion and delay, Maryland patients will now know if a 'cosmetic surgeon' is a real plastic surgeon. Given the recent rise in popularity of plastic surgery, many non-plastic surgery trained physicians have been calling themselves cosmetic surgeons and going to weekend courses in an attempt to perform cosmetic surgery. Previously there was no requirement, with many only stating they were 'board certified.' Many of my patients were shocked to learn that a 'cosmetic surgeon' was in fact a family medical doctor or ER physician with no formal training in plastic surgery. They didn't even know!"
Until this point, any licensed doctor could perform cosmetic surgery in a non-certified, office setting, and call themselves a "cosmetic surgeon". Without proper training, patient safety, as well as desired outcomes, could be endangered. The new Maryland law will enable patients to choose competent doctors by identifying which surgeons have proper training, and whether he or she is certified to be doing the services they advertise for.
Board certification is somewhat complicated, especially as it applies to plastic surgery. Apart from the ABMS, a nonprofit that has come up with professional standards for doctors to serve the public interest, there are many self-appointed boards in the U.S. that are not verified by the ABMS, many of which include cosmetic surgery procedures. Doctors will now be unable to advertise that they are "board-certified" by one of these unapproved boards.
Previous research has shown that most patients want a board certified plastic surgeon to perform their reconstructive or cosmetic procedures. Due to lack of regulations and controversial marketing techniques, it has been tough for the consumer to truthfully determine a doctor's speciality.
ABPS board certification is a grueling, voluntary process of peer review and examination with precise requirements on training and education. In regards to plastic surgery, to be certified by the ABPS, a candidate must complete the following:
- Must be a graduate of an accredited medical school
- Have finished a prerequisite surgical residency program (generally 3 to 5 years)
- Have completed training in an approved plastic surgery program (2 to 3 years)
- Have been recommended for ABPS certification by a chairperson of their training program
- Have passed a written and an oral exam
- Have submitted inventory of all operations performed
- Meets ABPS ethical and moral standards